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Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council


19th session of the Human Rights Council, Room XX © UN Photo/JeanMarc Ferre
19th session of the Human Rights Council, Room XX, Palais des Nations, Geneva
© UN Photo/JeanMarc Ferre

The special procedures of the Human Rights Council are independent human rights experts with mandates to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective. The system of Special Procedures is a central element of the United Nations human rights machinery and covers all human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political, and social. As of 27 March 2015 there are 41 thematic and 14 country mandates.

With the support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), special procedures undertake country visits; act on individual cases and concerns of a broader, structural nature by sending communications to States and others in which they bring alleged violations or abuses to their attention; conduct thematic studies and convene expert consultations, contribute to the development of international human rights standards, engage in advocacy, raise public awareness, and provide advice for technical cooperation. Special procedures report annually to the Human Rights Council; the majority of the mandates also reports to the General Assembly. Their tasks are defined in the resolutions creating or extending their mandates.
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What special procedures have done in 2014 at a glance

This report, covering the period from 1 January to 31 December 2014, provides information on the system of special procedures as a whole and its achievements, including facts and figures. It gives a comprehensive picture of what special procedures have done in 2014 individually and as a system, inter alia in terms of country visits, communications, thematic reports, follow-up activities, joint actions, development of international standards and advocacy. The report also reflects the work of the Coordination Committee. It also covers the main points raised at the twenty-first annual meeting of special procedures of the Human Rights Council, held in Geneva from 29 September to 3 October 2014.


Visual Directory

Directory of Special Procedures Mandate Holders

Special Procedures Visual Directory Accessible - August 2014
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Annual Fact and Figures 2013

Annual Fact and Figures 2013

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Civil Society Handbook

Civil Society Handbook

Click here Chapter VI - Special Procedures and the Full handbook here (PDF, 1,28MB)

UPR recommendations relating to the Special Procedures (2008-2013)

UPR recommendations relating to the Special Procedures (2008-2013)

UPR recommendations  (PDF, 1,73MB)


Visit of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons -- Italy, September 2013

Visit of the Special Rapporteur on truth -- Uruguay, October 2013

Visit of the Special Rapporteur on the right to water and sanitation -- Brazil, December 2013

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Feature stories

Feature stories about the Special Procedures of the
Human Rights Council.
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Contact us

Postal address:
Special Procedures Division
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10

Fax : +41 22 917 90 08

Nauru / Freedom of expression
New laws could be used to muzzle dissenting opinions and deter rights defenders in Nauru, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, warns.

Cambodian civil society excluded
The drafting of a law regulating civil society in Cambodia excludes NGOs from the process, UN expert on the rights to freedom of assembly and of association Maina Kiai warns.

The Rights of the Child
UN human rights experts call for the universal ratification and implementation of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on key anniversary (Monday, 25 May).

Education, our first concern
“Governments’ responsibility for ensuring inclusive, quality education is the cornerstone of the post-2015 education agenda,” UN Special Rapporteur Kishore Singh says.

Saving migrants’ lives, a priority
Saving the lives of those migrants stranded at sea in South East Asia should remain the priority – A group of UN experts urge the international community to assist the countries affected.

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For further information on how to submit communications on alleged human rights violations, please read the webpage on Communications and send your submission to: urgent-action@ohchr.org.